The North wind doth blow and we shall have swans. Wrap up warm and watch the wildlife this winter at your local Wetland Centre.
During this season, the Ouse Washes and WWT Welney become the home of our three species of swans: mute, whooper and Bewick’s. With a range of swan feed events you have a good chance of finding these wonderful waterfowl on the reserve.
For the early birds why not book onto one of the Swans Awake events? Watch the sun rise and the swans with it as they head off to the surrounding fields to feed. At the other end of the day view the swans flying back in as they glide onto the surface of the water ready to roost. At each of the commentated Swan Feeds learn more about these marvellous birds, including the story of their migrations to and from the Ouse Washes each winter. Enjoy close-up views of these birds as they are fed right in front of the Main Hide. When visiting after dark for a floodlit feed listen out over Lady Fen to the whistling of wigeon and the honking of whooper swans. For full times of Swan Feeds visit https://www.wwt.org.uk/wetlandcentres/welney/whats-on/
Looking closely at the swans you can see that some of them are wearing brightly coloured leg rings in order to identify individual birds. If you spot a leg ring the interactive swan touchscreen will help paint a picture of that bird. By reporting leg ring sightings you can actively help us follow their incredible journeys.
Increased water levels on the Washes sees an increase in waterfowl. Thousands of wigeon, pochard and tufted duck, along with pintail, goldeneye, plus mallard, teal and gadwall populate the Washes. Follow their activities closely to see how the ducks feed in different ways; some diving down deep under the water, whilst others dabble on the surface. Watch wading birds: Icelandic blacktailed godwits, dunlin and snipe feeding and roosting on the islands. You may even catch a glimpse of a bird of prey, as peregrine falcons or merlin as they soar along the Washes.
Get closer to our wetlands by joining one of our guides to explore Lady Fen, an area of the reserve not normally open to explore. Watch hares racing through the short vegetation, lapwing, golden plover dancing in the wide fenland skies and flocks of skylark, meadow pipits and starlings.
Over the festive period, why not enjoy the view Lady Fen with a Christmas Lunch? From the 15th – 24th December, Wigeon Café will be offering a festive Christmas carvery available from 12:00-2:30pm daily. Whilst tucking into your roast or sipping on hot chocolate look out for swans, hares and our smaller birds taking their meals at the bird feeding station.
Join us for a Festival of Swans (19th – 20th January), a weekend of activities to celebrate and learn about the amazing species which are whoopers and Bewick’s swans and the incredible journeys they make each year. Guest speakers will be hosting talks over the weekend and be available to answer your questions. Our daily swan feeds will be taking place alongside hare walks, drop in wildlife filming workshops and a selection of family activities including the opportunity to make a bird feeder or even your own swan ring. Keep an eye on our website and social media for announcements of guest speakers.
How about a game of GIANT Top Trumps? Top Trumps cards highlighting wetland wildlife are located around the reserve. Collect a scorecard on arrival and compare your animal scores to see if you can beat WWT Welney. Each top trump features interesting facts about our favourite wetland species allowing visitors of all ages to learn more about the wonderful creatures whilst experiencing them first-hand.